Our soul comes with an ego which helps us look after ourselves in the material world. There are many definitions of ego; here I will try to explain it in the best way that I understand from personal experience, rather than drawing from the literature or academic ideas.
The role of the ego is twofold – to protect us and to help us tell ourselves apart from other people. Our soul is expansive, energetic and creative; it defies logic, shifts and changes in bursts and growth can happen quickly. On the other hand our ego is logical, slow to change, evidence based in that it looks for proof and validation before accepting something to be true.
Our ego reflects the opinion we hold of ourselves, but it is not that opinion. We can change our opinion over time, and the ego will shift to accommodate what we believe. So it is necessary to also discuss what makes up our opinion of ourselves!
- Self-esteem is how much we like ourselves.
- Self-worth is how much we value ourselves.
- Self-confidence is a belief in ourselves and our abilities.
Opinions usually are judgements we either made upon ourselves, or judgements that others have made upon us that we have held onto. Where the opinions themselves could be represented by statements such as “I will never be a rock star”, our ego is an active, critical part of us and could reflect that particular opinion back to us such as “Remember you’ll never be a rock star, so you must be crazy if you think you could get up in front of all those people”.
So the ego gets the blame for being the bad guy as it is the part of us that reminds us of what we believe about ourselves, such as we are not good enough, we’re not able to or we don’t deserve it.
If we are not aware of the initial beliefs, we certainly are aware of our ego’s reflection of these beliefs, although we may not know exactly where they came from. Remember I said above that the opinions are also judgements that others have made upon us? So if your father said that “you never finish anything” or your teacher said “you’ll never amount to much” or your mother said “you’re good looking but you’re not beautiful”, these are planted like seeds deep in your subconscious, seeds that take root and grow over time into the reflections of ourselves that our ego shows us as frequently as we believe them to be true.
Society is based around the ego – it keeps us on our toes and keeps us functioning in the world that we live in. We can be part of the crowd, we won’t stand out for doing anything special and we won’t be criticised….. To do this we need to repress something of ourselves, hold back our gifts, our talents, our truth. When this happens we become disconnected with our true essence, with our “selves” and that’s where a lot of the pain of life comes from. As we get lost in the mix, we forget who we are, or that we have a right to be happy. Things seem more important to us when they really are not. We become submissive, we’re told what to do and who to be, without questioning it. The system of society is based around the ego, and we are living around the ego, and everyone is following everyone else.
STOP IT!!!! Listen to your heart, listen to your energy body, to your soul.
Many spiritual teachers suggest that we need to remove the ego in order to be happy. I disagree, our ego serves a purpose, has a function. It’s like a dog that’s been trained by someone else, doing what all the other dogs are doing. We have to take back control, retrain it and have it acting in our favour, instead of against us. Our ego can be a great friend to us, telling us when to rest, reminding us of what we have achieved, or showing us an easier route. As long as we feel we have to remove or “kill off” our ego, it will be fear-filled, as would any dog that knew it was for the chop.
I guess you’ve figured out by now that I believe strongly it’s not the ego that needs to be removed, but the opinions, the limiting self-beliefs that need to be transformed. In this way, the ego can then reflect something more aligned with who we really are, and can be a support to us and a great friend.